Jade Montserrat, Dolly Ribbons/Dolly Rhythms, 2016. Watercolour, gouache, pencil, pencil crayon on paper, 31 x 23.3 cm., 12 1/4 x 9 1/8 ins. © The Artist. Courtesy of Alison Jacques Gallery, London.
Alison Jacques Gallery is presenting Towards The Rainbow Tribe by emerging Scarborough-based artist, Jade Montserrat. This performance and project in the upstairs gallery includes a selection of watercolours and the artist’s new performance No Need For Clothing (2017). The work will be performed by Montserrat on the opening night and will continue to be screened throughout the exhibition.
Montserrat works at the intersection of art and activism through performance, film, installation, sculpture, print and text. The artist interrogates these mediums with the aim to expose gaps in our visual and linguistic habits. Her text works take inspiration from an extensive rolling bibliography including writers Hannah Arendt, Ntozake Shange, Caryl Philips, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, bell hooks and Zora Neale Hurston.
The title of the exhibition is taken from Josephine Baker’s pivotal 20th-century experiment ‘The Rainbow Tribe’ in which a group of 12 ethnically-diverse children were adopted by Baker. Montserrat explores Baker’s fairytale-like ideas of a modern mixed-race family within the climate of global 21st-century issues surrounding cultural diversity and political freedom. Montserrat’s ‘Rainbow Tribe’ defines itself as a “cultural mix of peoples” who are “advocates of free movement”. The performance and corresponding works on paper draw on the artist’s research into the history of slavery, migration and the responses to them in the context of Black Atlantic cultural studies. Watercolours that address the viewer directly with text are juxtaposed with close-ups of the human body. Fixating on lips and eyes, they mirror the lens of the selfie generation in which anyone has the potential to achieve celebrity status. In these works, Montserrat questions our collective agency and responsibility as global participants on a worldwide stage.
Jade Montserrat lives and works in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2003 and Norwich University of the Arts in 2010. Montserrat is the Stuart Hall Foundation practice-based PhD fellow at The Institute for Black Atlantic Research at The University of Central Lancashire (2017), and Associate Artist in the Holding Space Programme at The Showroom, London (2016). Recent selected screenings, performances and presentations include: Arnolfini, and Spike Island, Bristol (2017) and Princeton University (2016). Montserrat works collaboratively with artist and performance collectives including Network 11, Press Room, the Conway Cohort and Rainbow Tribe: Affectionate Movement.